“Next up, Jennifer Lopez, a librarian from 2017–will she perform better than our last few contestants and win a coveted spot on ‘Space Station Jupiter’?”
Backstage, Jen frowned as the makeup robot freshened her lipstick and put powder on her cleavage. Why was the announcer mentioning the year as if it were her city or place of birth or something? She still wasn’t sure she understood the point of this interview. The people who had explained earlier had said this was a job interview, but here she was on some sort of studio set with cameras and lights and the backstage area she was currently sitting in. Looking in the mirror, Jen hardly recognized the face looking back at her. The makeup was the final step in a transformation from mousy librarian to the overly dressed, overly glitzy, overly everything 1970s style entertainer looking back at her now.
Jen’s hair was teased and shellacked into a strange pompadour that she thought rather resembled a horse’s mane. Her eyes were decorated with sequins, glitter, and 6 different colors, all of which made her afraid to blink lest something go into her eye. Makeup was also overdone with highly rouged cheeks and lips and more sparkles on her cheeks. And the outfit…my god, the outfit, platform shoes about twelve inches high and low rise pants in powder blue with silver sparkles and bell bottoms as wide at the bottom as a skirt–to be clear, each leg was as wide as a skirt. And the top, Jen shuddered to imagine what her parents would think of her. The top was basically see through with strategically placed polka dot sparkles as tokens of modesty.
And she had never seen so much jewelry on one person, just the weight of the rings was astonishing. Each finger had rings up to the knuckle, some fingers with five or more rings–huge, elaborate, and of course, sparkling with gem stones.
A light began flashing next to the stage and a man jumped up to escort her out on stage. “Let’s give a warm welcome to Jennifer, everyone!” The announcer’s voice rang out.
Jen walked on stage, hesitating in the glare of the lights. She couldn’t see anything past the lights at the end of the stage, they were just too bright, but she could hear applause from what she supposed was the audience. She made her way to the center of the stage where a man sat behind a desk with two chairs to one side. The setup was familiar, reminding Jen of late night talk shows. The backdrop of the stage was a black screen with stars and planets as if the galaxy was flattened for a picture. She could see the Milky Way more vibrantly than ever in real life.
As she had been instructed, she approached the man behind the desk and held out her hand. “Hello, I’m Jennifer.”
The man looked very strange and Jen struggled to determine what about him was odd. “Great to meet you,” He smiled at her and gestured to a chair. “Have a seat, I’m Max.”
As he smiled, Jen realized what was odd about him–his face seemed shiny like a plastic doll. And when he smiled, his teeth were not individual teeth, just whiteness in a line. He was clearly not a real person.
“Let’s start with the big, bold question, Jennifer. Why do you deserve to be one of the lucky few humans to go to Space Station Jupiter?” The audience applauded and cheered. Jen’s brows drew together in a frown. The audience booed. “Oh no, my dear, be careful–frowns will drop your ratings mighty quick!”
“My ratings? I don’t understand, I thought I was here for a job interview?”
“My, isn’t she a sweet young thing?” Cheers from the audience. “Sure hon, this is your most important interview ever!” Max asserted, giving her a thumbs up. “Answer the question–quickly! I have other interviews to get to.” The audience clapped and yelled, “Answer the question!”
“Well, I’m a hard worker,” Jen began softly.
“Louder, sugar! This show is in distribution throughout the galaxy. We need volume to translate!”
Jen spoke louder. “I get along with my co-workers–”
“Oooh, gets along with co-workers!” Max winked broadly at the audience. “That’s important for this position.” The audience snickered and hooted.
“What else you got, sister?” Max looked at Jen with a broad wink to the audience.
“Well, I’m good with children, of course.”
“Ding, ding, ding! Time’s up for this interview. Audience, thumbs up or down?” Max looked towards the cameras. “Does Jennifer have what it takes to help repopulate the Earth race?”
A speedometer type gauge appeared over the universe map. As Jen watched, totally at a loss for what was happening, she saw the stars on the map change colors to red or green. The gauge slowly filled with green on the left and progressed towards and finally passed a mark that read “Accepted”. The audience roared and Max jumped to his feet.
“Jennifer, you’re a winner! On to Space Station Jupiter with you.”
Someone came out and led her off stage. She heard the announcer saying, “Next up, Joe Hayward, a car salesman from 2010.” Jen shook her head to clear it. Her escort led her to a blue door and knocked. A woman opened the door and said, “Oh good, another female!” She looked more normal to Jen than anyone or thing she had seen so far that day.
“I don’t understand,” Jen cried out. “What is going on here? None of this makes any sense.”
“Oh, the drug is wearing off, just try and stay calm. Please, sit down. I’m Cilla, what’s your name?” The woman asked, leading Jen to a couch against the wall. About thirty other people were in the room, some as fantastically dressed as Jen, others more soberly as the woman leading her to the couch.
“Well Jen, this whole thing will be a huge shock for you. I know it was for me! The year is 2563 and Earth was destroyed about ten years ago. Several other worlds found Earthlings who had been cryogenically frozen on Mars–apparently that was the deep storage location for people like you and I. Anyway, now there’s an effort underway to repopulate the species on a space station on Jupiter. That…interview was the aliens deciding if you get to be one of us…which apparently you do.”
“And if they decided no?”
Cilla looked down at her hands for a minute and sighed. Looking back up at Jen, she said, “Well, then you got shown to the black door. Or so I’ve heard. From what I understand, people who go through the black door are destroyed. Lucky for us, we apparently answered the interview questions correctly!”